States Don’t Know What’s Happening in their Short-term Health Plan Markets and That’s a Problem

By Dania Palanker and Christina Goe

We are in the midst of a global pandemic and consumers are being sold short-term health plans that may not cover the cost of diagnosis and treatment if they become infected with COVID-19. While lack of testing for the virus means we do not know how many people are infected, a lack of stringent data collection means policymakers do not know how many people are enrolled in short-term plans. While some short-term insurers say COVID-19 testing is covered, these plans commonly exclude key benefits like coverage for preexisting conditions and prescription drugs and sometimes place low dollar limits on covered services such as the ICU. Short-term plans are specifically excluded from requirements in the new COVID-19 response law, which requires coverage of all services related to COVID-19 testing be covered without cost-sharing.

In their latest post for the Commonwealth Fund’s To the Point blog, Dania Palanker and Christina Goe finds that state insurance regulators lack critical data about the scope and nature of short-term coverage and its impact on consumers’ ability to access and afford critical treatments, such as for COVID-19. Download the full post here.

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